Piper Friday – Suffering: Gods will and our response

As well as dedicating Mondays to Lloyd-Jones, I am going to start dedicating Fridays to Piper. Todays extract is a great rejoiner to those who think belief in Gods sovereignty necessarily makes for passive Christians who just sit back and wait for Gods will to unfold

If God Wills Disease Why Should We Try to Eradicate It?: This is a crucial question for me because I have heard Christians say recently that believing in the sovereignty of God hinders Christians from working hard to eradicate diseases like malaria and tuberculosis and cancer and AIDS. They think the logic goes like this: If God sovereignly wills all things, including malaria, then we would be striving against God to invest millions of dollars to find a way to wipe it out.

That is not the logic the Bible teaches. And it is not what Calvinists have historically believed. In fact, lovers of God’s sovereignty have been among the most aggressive scientists who have helped subdue creation and bring it under the dominion of man for his good just like Psalm 8:6 says, “You have given him [man] dominion over the works of your hands; you have put all things under his feet.

The logic of the Bible says: Act according to God’s will of command, not according to his will of decree. God’s will of decree is whatever comes to pass. If the Lord wills, we will live and do this or that (James 4:15). God’s will of decree ordained that his Son be betrayed (Luke 22:22), ridiculed (Isaiah 53:3), mocked (Luke 18:32), flogged (Matthew 20:19), forsaken (Matthew 26:31), pierced (John 19:37), and killed (Mark 9:31). But the Bible teaches us plainly that we should not betray, ridicule, mock, flog, forsake, pierce, or kill innocent people. That is God’s will of command. We do not look at the death of Jesus, clearly willed by God, and conclude that killing Jesus is good and that we should join the mockers.

In the same way, we do not look at the devastation of malaria or AIDS and conclude that we should join the ranks of the indifferent. No. Love your neighbor is God’s will of command (Matthew 22:39). Do unto others as you would have them do unto you is God’s will of command (Matthew 7:12). If your enemy is hungry, feed him is God’s will of command (Romans 12:20). The disasters that God ordains are not aimed at paralyzing his people with indifference, but mobilizing them with compassion.

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